New Mexico continues to struggle in child well-being study

by Ron Davis, Albuquerque Business First
June 13, 2017

Things are looking up for children living in the Land of Enchantment — slightly.

The annual KIDS COUNT Data Book, which was released Tuesday morning by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, reported New Mexico ranked 49th out of the 50 states for child well-being. Despite continuing the low ranking — New Mexico was 49th last year as well — New Mexico KIDS COUNT Director Amber Wallin sees the necessary steps being taken to raise the state’s reputation for child well-being. All numbers below were compiled from the KIDS COUNT database.

“We’ve seen really great improvements in measures of health and, as with last year, we can attribute much of that to the expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act,” Wallin said in a statement. “This is additional proof that the policies enacted at the state and federal levels really do impact the lives of our children and their families.”

The Affordable Care Act, or commonly referred to as Obamacare, was signed into law in March 2010. Since then, the number of children without health insurance has dropped from 53,000 in 2010, to 22,000 in 2015. The number of parents without it has also fallen significantly from 105,000 to 58,000 in a state with over 2 million people, according to the U.S. Census Bureau in 2015.

The 16 indicators for child well-being include child poverty rate, teen birth rates, fourth-grade reading comprehension, among other factors. The indicators are housed under four domains: economic well-being, education, health, and family and community. New Hampshire was deemed the best state overall for child well-being.

New Mexico saw a substantial jump in the health grade, which Executive Director of New Mexico Voices for Children James Jimenez said it gave him a reason to be optimistic.

“This year we have something to celebrate because our health ranking rose from 44th to 37th, which shows additional and sustained improvement,” Jimenez said in a statement. “The percentage of our children without health insurance, which used to be consistently high, is now lower than the national average. This is great for the state because when children have insurance they are more likely to get well-baby and well-child checkups, vaccinations, vision and hearing screenings and other preventive care that helps ensure healthy development and helps them do their best in school.”

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